“Arturo Vidal was a smart choice by the club, while the Coach has made the most of him. It is clear that some of the biggest teams in the world are looking at him and we are not hiding that fact. But our desire is to keep him because Juventus have never been a selling club, we are an outfit that wants to continue growing to target more important trophies. And Vidal is an indispensable figure.”
Juventus director general Beppe Marotta thus made it clear that their midfielder – after links with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – would remain in Turin this summer. He sounded pretty categorical, but then again, what else was he going to say?
There is no doubt that Juventus want to keep their Chilean ball-winner. He’s become a vital cog in Antonio Conte’s Bianconero machine. After all, had he not been signed for what has turned out to be a bargain €10.5m in 2011, then we may never have seen the 4-3-3 and then 3-5-2 from a Coach who was initially viewed as a strict 4-4-2/4-2-4 aficionado. Vidal has been a key acquisition.
Yet it is easy to say in April that Vidal won’t leave, it may be somewhat harder if an interested club puts €20m, €25m, €30m, whatever amount on the table for him in the summer. There will undoubtedly be a figure where a desire to keep will be turned into a temptation to sell. Every player, or virtually every player, has his price.
Selling Vidal should be an option that Juve consider, but not for at least another season. Putting the clear footballing reasons to one side, you have to ponder the financial aspects. Vidal, at the age of 25, is still not at the peak of his game. As such, his market value has yet to reach its summit. Keep him in Turin for another campaign or two and watch his price tag increase. If you are going to cash in on an asset then that is the time to do it.
Marotta’s argument that Juventus are not a selling club doesn’t strictly ring true. They haven’t been under his directorship, but this is an outfit who often cashed in on high profile stars during the self sufficient days of Luciano Moggi, Antonio Giraudo and Roberto Bettega. They sold the likes of Roberto Baggio, Christian Vieri, Zinedine Zidane and Pippo Inzaghi to help finance the arrival of new players such as Gigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved, Lilian Thuram et al. They made the system work while the Agnelli family funds were used elsewhere.
More than one Juventus employee last week looked to the difference in financial strengths between themselves and Europe’s biggest when trying to explain the 4-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich. But if you can’t compete in the revenue stakes, then the transfer market does offer you an avenue by selling players. Granted, that is not as simple as it sounds given that you have to do it in a way to make sure your side’s competitiveness is not negatively offset. But it is an option that should be explored.
Marotta has clearly had few problems spending money since his arrival in the summer of 2010, indeed, he’s actually spent more than Bayern in the last three years. And that is not a criticism of him or his buys, a number of whom spectacularly flopped. No transfer chief is immune to signings that don’t come off. The worrying aspect is his inability to sell players at a profit and move some unwanted individuals on, which have then had consequences on the wage bill.
In the summer of 2010, Juve spent €56m on new faces and collected €37m in sales. A year later, they shelled out a massive €85m and brought in just €14m. Last summer, €55m went out and only €17m came in. The club lost €11.5m on Milos Krasic and Eljero Elia alone. Marotta has only sold one player in Turin for over €10m and that was Diego to Wolfsburg.
La Signora also failed to get Amauri’s €3.8m salary off their wage bill until six months before his contract was set to expire, while Vincenzo Iaquinta – frozen out of the squad this term – is still the club’s third highest paid player behind Gigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo. Add a bit more to Iaquinta’s €3m a year deal and you have a top player’s salary.
The tales of Amauri and Iaquinta illustrate that if you continually opt to reject or fail in the sales of certain players, then you run the risk of never making a return on whatever you’ve shelled out in terms of a transfer fee.
There are a few players in the present squad who may soon be contenders to be included in such a bracket. All are in attack. Mirko Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri roughly cost the Turin giants €15m each. The first two players are 29, the latter 28. How much would they be worth today? How much in 12 months’ time? The line graph would probably be falling south.
One of those three will surely have to be released for a decent amount at the end of the season, possibly even two depending on who else, as well as Fernando Llorente, will come in for 2013-14. And although Vucinic is clearly Conte’s first choice striker, he shouldn’t be untouchable because he’s ultimately taking up a striker role in the side despite clearly not being the most clinical finisher in the League.
Selling for the sake of selling is evidently ludicrous, but one would presume that a club such as Juventus would also understand that there does come a time when saying goodbye makes sense.